Nordic Research

Ryan Foster

Date: Wednesday 14 October 2015, 5.00pm

With Sword and Cow: Viking Age Shielings in Scotland

Event details

Venue: Room G.05, 50 George Square

Ryan's lecture is a joint venture between the Northern Scholars Scheme and the departments of Scandinavian, Celtic & Scottish Studies in the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Lecture abstract

The Viking Age bursts onto the historical record with the sacking of Lindisfarne in AD 793 (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). The majority of entries from cotemporary chronicles tell of short and violent encounters between natives and hit and run raiders. What is rarely documented in the surviving documentation is the settlement over large parts of the British Isles by Old Norse-speaking peoples.

The Scandinavian settlement of Britain not only involved the change of an elite, but also cultural change in the form of language, place-names and farming practices. My paper looks at two of these changes: 1) the use of shielings (summer farms) in Viking Age farming, and 2) the use of different shieling names by Old Norse speakers as evidence for some cross cultural exchange during this ‘colonisation’.